Mumbai, a city that never sleeps ?

MUMBAI, September 8, 2015 - Mumbai, an intense, densely-packed mass of humanity resting on the Arabian Sea, is where Indians from all over the country come seeking work and a better life.

It's where I came in 2005 with my wife and then two-year-old son to take up the role of staff photographer with Agence France-Presse.

I was aware that India's most populous city, its commercial capital and home of Bollywood starlets, had many monikers that aimed to encapsulate its vibrant and intoxicating nature.

"Maximum City", "The City of Dreams" and "The Land of Opportunities" were to name just a few.

"I was walking with a friend after conducting a photography lecture when I saw these two people clinging onto the rails to settle themselves in this weird position"

"Money flies in the air in Mumbai, you just need to grab it," is a common refrain in Indian movies.

Another popular sobriquet is "The City that Never Sleeps", and that's the subject of a photo essay I've been running on Instagram and Facebook over the past few weeks.

At any time of the day in Mumbai someone is awake, trying to make it big, but all too often they end up doing menial jobs, scraping together just enough money to help feed a family back home in their rural village.

Whether it's a chaiwallah from Rajasthan pouring his first cup of tea for a customer in the morning or a taxi driver from Uttar Pradesh on a late night fare to the airport, the city is alive with hustle and bustle.

"I was on way back home after buying some groceries when I saw this deliveryman taking a snooze…" (AFP / Indranil Mukherjee)

But amid the dash to get on and the incessant honking of car horns I am always amazed by the ability of people here to get some sleep in the strangest and most awkward looking of places.

People, of which there are about 20 million crammed into this crazy metropolis, often work odd hours and have long commutes, meaning they try to catch 40 winks whenever they can.

The coconut vendor by the side of the street, the shopkeeper in his store, the student on the train home after an exhausting day at college, they've all fascinated me as they grabbed a power nap as life went on around them.

(AFP / Indranil Mukherjee)

There's a severe lack of space here but I'm always mesmerised by people's ability to find their own little space and be content with that as they snooze, oblivious to the fact I am quickly snapping their picture.

Mumbai, formerly Bombay, is truly a photographer's paradise. It has tales to be told in every nook. Everyone person you meet has a story to share.

The city and its people have sucked me into their hearts; it became my Mumbai, or "aamchimumbai". 

A native of Kolkata has become a "Mumbaikar", and despite not being born here, it's my home now. And my son, now 12 years old, is even more of a "Mumbaikar" than me.

Indranil Mukherjee is an AFP photographer based in Mumbai. Follow him on Twitter and on Instagram. This article was edited by Peter Hutchison in Mumbai.

"I was traveling for a shoot outside of Mumbai and had to reach a point to catch a taxi. I saw this lady with her child - probably the child was unwell and she seemed very tired. I persuaded a fellow traveler to shift so that she could get some extra space for the kid" (AFP / Indranil Mukherjee)
(AFP / Indranil Mukherjee)
"I was on my way to the office when I saw this man from a distance, totally stretched out on the bench. I didn't find it interesting at first but as I crossed him from behind what caught my eye was the position of his hands and feet and his slippers" (AFP / Indranil Mukherjee)
(AFP / Indranil Mukherjee)
(AFP / Indranil Mukherjee)
(AFP / Indranil Mukherjee)
"I had stepped down the road from our office to have a cup of tea when I saw the guy enjoying a siesta….. He was awakened by a fellow shopkeeper as I started to shoot so I walked away. But I sensed that he would doze off again. I came back 5 minutes later and voila, got my frame…" (AFP / Indranil Mukherjee)
(AFP / Indranil Mukherjee)
"I was a bit early for an assignment at Mumbai's famous red-light district of Kamathipura and so decided to walk around to look for some pics. I was ambling across when I saw this man sleeping blissfully while everything around him was awake and getting ready for the start of the day" (AFP / Indranil Mukherjee)
"I was taking a shortcut under an overpass after an assignment when I saw these homeless men. I shot a few frames and started to walk away, but when I reviewed the pics I felt that something was missing. I went back, and that's when I realized that there was a reflection…" (AFP / Indranil Mukherjee)
(AFP / Indranil Mukherjee)
(AFP / Indranil Mukherjee)
Indranil Mukherjee